“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is a saying we have all heard countless times before, but is there any truth to it? In my opinion, all three meals of the day are extremely important and skipping any meal can be detrimental to your health. If you eat breakfast but skip lunch, you are still likely to miss out on important nutrients, experience dropping blood sugar levels in the afternoon, crave a sugary snack and over-eat at the evening meal, so I’m not sure that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – but it sure is important!!
A healthy breakfast will provide us with an opportunity to consume essential nutrients, keep us satisfied, can improve our concentration in the morning, help to maintain a healthy metabolism and achieve and maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day. Additionally, studies have shown that breakfast eaters are more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight than non-breakfast eaters.
So why would you skip breakfast?? Below are some common reasons my clients have for skipping breakfast and my typical responses:
Reason: “I don’t have time in the mornings – I like my sleep!”
Response: Breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated. Try taking something and eating it on the run. Practical options for breakfast on the run include a banana and a handful of nuts, pre-made overnight oats in a jar, pre-made chia pudding in a jar or a yoghurt (The squeezie Chobani yoghurts are handy if you drive to work).
Alternatively, could you keep some muesli or bread at work and eat something once you get to work? Ideally, breakfast would be consumed within 1-2 hours of waking, it doesn’t have to be immediate.
Reason: “I’m not hungry in the morning”
Response: If you don’t get hungry in the mornings, have a think about what you typically eat throughout the afternoon and evening. Often, if you skip breakfast, you tend to eat more over the second half of the day. This could be in the form of a large dinner or snacks on the couch after dinner. If you have over-indulged later in the day, of course you won’t be hungry for breakfast! If you spread your nutrient intake out more evenly over the day (i.e. by eating a healthy breakfast followed by a healthy lunch with snacks in between if hungry), you are less likely to feel like over-indulging later in the day.
Reason: “If I skip breakfast, I don’t get hungry until late afternoon so it helps me to eat less. When I eat breakfast, I’m starving by 11am!”
Response: Feeling hungry is a good thing!! If you eat breakfast and feel hungry by 11am, this is a great sign that your metabolism is working well. If you skip breakfast and don’t feel hungry until later in the day, this is a sign that your body has gone into a kind of survival mode: it knows you’re not going to feed it for hours so it’s going to store energy, slowing down your metabolism. Eating more regularly will actually help you to lose weight.
Being organised and preparing your breakfast yourself is preferable to grabbing something on the run. Often, granolas, muffins, banana bread or other breakfast choices from cafes are much higher in sugar and total calories compared with home prepared options. The healthiest breakfast options will include a source low GI, complex carbohydrate to provide you with energy throughout the morning, lean protein to help keep you satisfied and dietary fibre to keep your bowels and gut microbiome happy. Here are my 8 healthiest breakfast choices:
1. PORRIDGE: If you follow my Instagram, you will know that I am a mad porridge fan. During winter I have it every single week day. It’s cheap (the plain label rolled oats for 99c/bag are just as good as the brand named stuff!), full of soluble dietary fibre, includes a little protein and as a bonus, has beta-glucans that can help to lower your cholesterol. For extra protein, calcium and fibre, add a dollop of Greek yoghurt and sprinkle with some toasted seeds. See my Strawberry Porridge recipe here
2. LUPIN PORRIDGE: If you haven’t heard of lupin, it comes from the legume family and is a wonderful source of protein and fibre. Making porridge the usual way with 2 tablespoons of lupin and 2 tablespoons of oats will give you a deliciously nutty and nutritionally balanced breakfast! You can buy lupin flakes from www.thelupinco.com.au. See my recipe here
3. HOMEMADE MUESLI: Making your own muesli is super quick and easy and will last you ages. Many store-bought muesli options have added sugars and fats so if you make your own you know exactly what you’re putting in your body! See my recipe here
4. 1 SLICE OF MULITGRAIN TOAST WITH 2 EGGS: It really doesn’t matter how you cook your eggs; it really comes down to what is added to them. If you fry them with a drop of extra virgin olive oil, they are just as healthy as poached eggs. If you scramble them with butter and cream, then they are obviously going to have a greater amount of saturated fat and calories. Eggs are a wonderful source of protein and fat soluble vitamins (and no, they will not increase your cholesterol). Adding veggies like sautéed mushrooms, spinach and tomato to your eggs will give you and extra boost of vitamins, antioxidants and fibre.
5. 2 SLICES OF MULTIGRAIN TOAST WITH ¼ AVOCADO, 30g GOAT/FETA/RICOTTA CHEESE AND A DRIZZLE OF OLIVE OIL: Multigrain bread (the more grains and seeds the better) provides protein, low GI carbohydrate and dietary fibre and is a healthier choice than wholemeal. Top it with healthy fats and some cheese for extra protein (and deliciousness).
6. 200g NATURAL GREEK YOGHURT WITH FRESH FRUIT: Greek yoghurt is my choice of yoghurts as it is generally higher protein and calcium and lower in sugar than regular yoghurt. Top it with fresh fruit for flavour, vitamin C and fibre. To boost this breakfast further, add a teaspoon of nuts, seeds or LSA.
7. CHIA PUDDING: Chia seeds are a wonderful source of dietary fibre, protein and omega 3 fats. Combined with milk and topped with Greek yoghurt for some low GI carbs, they make the perfect start to the day! See my recipe here
8. SMOOTHIE: It’s easy to get carried away with smoothies by adding too much fruit or simply too many ingredients and ending up with a huge, calorie dense meal. For the perfect balance, add 1 serve of fruit (i.e. the size of a medium apple or banana), 1 serve of dairy (i.e. 250ml milk or 200g yoghurt) and a tablespoon of nuts or seeds. Add some spinach for added nutrients (you won't even taste it!).
I will always recommend real food over highly processed food, however if you prefer to have an easy breakfast cereal in the morning here are my top picks:
1. BeNatural 5 Whole Grain Flakes
2. Kellogg’s Guardian
3. Goodness Superfoods Protein 1st
Happy breakfast eating!